Are Some Video Games Better Off Without Sequels?

-by Dylan DiBona

While I was sweeping this morning, I decided to listen to the soundtrack of the cult classic DS game The World Ends With You (luckily it really holds up)This reminded me of a post I wrote about video game sequels we’ve waited too long for. Then I started thinking about the opposite; The World Ends With You will always be remembered as an amazing game. I loved Kingdom Hearts 2 more than any game as a child, but when I think about how it’s just one small piece of a long and stupidly convoluted timeline, my feelings are slightly diminished. Sometimes a company will give us a sequel and yet not really give us want we want, or in Square Enix’s case they’ll give us a hundred spin-offs and no sequel.

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There’s really only two points I can make against sequels because let’s be frank, who doesn’t want a sequel to their favorite games?

Preserving a Reputation

This links back to what I said about The World Ends With You; it will always be fondly remembered? So why take a gamble on something that might change peoples perception of the game? What if Jak and Daxter never received a sequel? It would be remembered only as a great PS2 platformer, but because of it’s two very different predecessors, it’s now the black sheep of the series. This isn’t to say that Jak 2 & 3 are bad at all, but they certainly changed the spotlight that shone on Jak 1
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Sometimes a sequel is just so completely unlike it’s predecessor that it makes people upset and confused a la Chrono Cross, Zelda II and Castlevania II. 

It’s not just about preserving the reputation of a game, but sometimes even a company. I can wholeheartedly understand if a company honestly admitted to be afraid of releasing a sequel to an incredibly acclaimed game.

Sometimes to keep a series fresh a company will introduce mechanics that older fans hate. I love the 3DS Fire Emblem entries for their tactical gameplay and optional conversations, but plenty of people hate them for being “waifu simulators”. It’s a classic case of “you can’t please everyone”.

Over-saturating the Market

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For twelve years now we’ve gotten a Call of Duty game every year. Now I won’t hate on the series because obviously they’re successful games for a reason, but would it kill them to take some time to make a better game? The biggest complaints I hear from people who left the series are “they’re always the same” or “they’re out of ideas”. By flooding the market with too many war FPS’, you’re draining consumers of all enthusiasm while lowering outsiders perception of the medium. There’s no reason to argue when somebody says “there’s too many war games”, because it’s true.

Back in 2014 and 2015 I was excited that game developer Scott Cawthon kept pumping out Five Nights at Freddy’s sequels at intense speed (two games every year until 2017). However, I wonder now if the series could’ve benefited from some more time on the drawing board. Can you blame Scott or Activision? There’s so much money to be made in the video game market. It’d be nice to see more developers like Atlus or Naughty Dog who don’t release a game until it has their stamp of quality.

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So for a company that values quality, are video game sequels worth it? Absolutely. New IPs start off as little seedlings and after finding out if there’s an audience for said seedling, enthusiasm from the developers can help it grow into an enormous success. I like the concept of one-hit wonder video games like The World Ends With You or Undertale, I’d like to see more of that. At the end of the day I’m human and the temptation of a sequel is too much, I just think companies should try and make them as satisfying as possible.

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So what do you guys think? Are some games better off as stand-alone titles? What are some of your favorite examples? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply!

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8 thoughts on “Are Some Video Games Better Off Without Sequels?

  1. Sequels get a bad rap because a vocal set of enthusiasts are quick to use them as evidence for the industry’s creative stagnation or when pointing out that flooding the market with installments carelessly will ruin the brand. While there are cases of that being true (i.e. Call of Duty), I still think sequels are important because they can potentially go in new directions without having to establish the universe again. Granted, there are some cases where direct sequels didn’t work because the last installment had an air-tight conclusion, so I think another thing to consider is whether or not the lingering plot threads warrant expanding upon. Chrono Trigger was a case where this line of thinking didn’t pay off, and as a result, Chrono Cross isn’t nearly as beloved (and in my opinion, rightly so).

    In short, I think whether or not a game could use a sequel should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Token sequels are pretty dire, but when done well, sequels can expand on or improve upon earlier concepts, delivering a much more solid, complete experience.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree with this to an extent. I do like a “one-and-done” story in a game, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be another game in the same universe. The ones that irritate me are when they try to tack on a sequel to a completed story just to generate more money, or when a single game is a clear set up for a sequel that never gets made.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Great post, and I agree! Chrono Trigger is my all-time favorite RPG, and I remember being so vexxed by Chrono Cross – it truly felt unnecessary, and I choose to pretend it doesn’t exist. As for Zelda II… I kinda dig it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so tricky, because on the one hand you want a game that you really love to have a sequel so you can enjoy that world all over again. On the other hand, you want the series to end on a strong note. But how do you know the sequel won’t end on a strong note until it’s already out? Yikes! It’s definitely a calculated risk on the part of developers, one I personally am glad I never have to worry about making.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As always, it depends! I think it comes down to the reason the sequel is being released. Is it a cash-grab because the preceding game was so successful, or is there another story ready to be told? I don’t think experimenting with a game is a bad thing, although I might be biased because I’m one of about five people who actually like Zelda II and its unexpected RPG elements.

    At any rate, if the story that came before it is finished, I think it’s okay to play in the same universe, but to rip open a storyline again in order to just make some more money is just terrible. As much as I think FNAF is fascinating, I wonder how much of the “complex story” is actually complex, and how much is gamers trying to make a rushed series of games make sense…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think that many publishers (because let’s face it, this is their fault) could stand to ease up a bit on churning out sequels for their IPs. Frankly, I’m getting franchise-fatigue fatigue. I’m tired of seeing 2’s, III’s, and the never ending parade of colons (these “:”, not the other kind of colons) after game titles. I’m interested in seeing some new things. I know that sequels are safe bets and all, but it’s getting tiresome. I feel like I’ve been playing the same games over and over for years now.

    I wonder if publishers will start to catch onto the notion that this is why indie games have become so popular.

    Liked by 1 person

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